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If you’re the type of driver that likes to just “stick the key in and go,” then there’s a chance that you have developed some bad ownership habits along the way. That’s not to say you can’t just drive your car, but proper care and awareness of what you’re doing to your car are important if you want it to last a long time. Here are 10 things that you could be doing to ruin your car and not even be aware of it.

1. Stop running your car on “empty”

Traffic and fuel economy do not get along | Getty Images

Do you like running the car until the gas needle is hovering just above the “empty” mark? We can’t blame you considering the astronomical gas prices nowadays. However, running your car “on fumes” regularly can end up damaging it. According to MoneyWise, having gas in your car’s fuel tank cools the fuel pump.

If the fuel pump overheats, it can cause a misfire, hesitation, and poor fuel economy. Make sure not to run your car on empty if you want to avoid having to replace the fuel pump or more.

2. Don’t ignore any strange noises

When driving your car, do you hear any strange noises like a humming, whirring, or knocking sound? If so, any of these sounds could potentially be bigger issues that can end up costing you a lot of money in repairs. As such, you should not ignore these strange sounds and get them checked out by a qualified mechanic right away.

3. Stop riding the brakes

Mechanic working on the brake system of a car, bleeding brakes via caliper bleeder screw
Mechanic working on brakes | Marijan Murat/picture alliance via Getty Images

If you like to keep one foot on the gas pedal and one foot on the brake, then you should refrain from doing so immediately. Applying even a little pressure to the brake pedal while you’re accelerating – also known as “riding the brakes – can burn out the car’s brake lines.

Also, if your car is equipped with an automatic emergency braking feature, then it might not register when you have your foot on the brake. This, in turn, could lead to an accident.

4. Don’t eat in your car

Two men eat their take away food inside a car.
Two men eat their take away food inside a car. | Yuttachai Kongprasert/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

We know, it’s hard not to bite into that juicy burger right after you receive it from your favorite drive-thru. However, it’s not a good idea to eat in your car. Not only does eating in your car lend itself to creating spills and other messes, but it can also be distracting if you eat while driving.

Additionally, Reader’s Digest warns that having food in your car is a safety issue as the amount of bacteria on your food can double if you store it in your car – at a temperature between 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, that fast food can make your car smell. So it’s best to save your meals for your destination.

5. Refrain from smoking in your car

Man smoking a cigarette in a car mirror
Man smoking a cigarette in a car mirror. | FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP

We know, smoking cigarettes is a habit that many people enjoy and we’re not one to judge. However, it’s worth it to note that the smoke from those oh-so-addictive cigarettes can wreak havoc on your car’s interior, just like it does in your lungs. The smoke can damage the interior plastics and fabrics and make it smell for the life of the car. Here’s how you can rid your car’s interior of the cigarette smell.

6. Slow down for speed bumps

A speed bump.
A speed bump. | BuildPix/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images

It’s a no-brainer that you should slow down for speed bumps. After all, they’re called “speed bumps” for a reason. However, if you choose to speed over them then don’t be surprised when your car has suspension and tires issues later on. Not to mention damaged steering components as well.

7. Don’t forget to change your tires out every winter

A mechanic changes tires on a car.
A mechanic changes tires on a car. | Wolfgang Kumm/picture alliance via Getty Images

If you live in an area where it snows in the wintertime, then you probably know that it’s a good idea to change out your car’s tire when the snow starts to fall. But don’t forget to change them back to summer tires in the spring as the heat can damage the winter tires if you forget.

8. Stop neglecting your car’s tire pressures

A woman checks the air pressure on a car tire at a gas station.
A woman checks the air pressure on a car tire at a gas station. | Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images

Did you get used to seeing that tire pressure light on the dashboard? We know, it’s easy to ignore. However, doing so can lead to worse fuel economy. In that case, make sure to check your tire’s pressures once a month and inflate to the proper pressure according to the owner’s manual. Doing so will not only lead to better fuel economy and tire wear, but it will also turn that annoying light off.

9. Don’t forget to engage the emergency brake

2022 Kia Sorento Prestige shifter console area
2022 Kia Sorento Prestige shifter console area | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

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While the emergency brake may only seem like it should be used in the case of an emergency, it should technically be used whenever you park the car. By not engaging the brake, you’re asking the transmission to do all the work when it comes to holding the car in place. That may eventually lead to the transmission popping out of gear. So remember to engage the parking brake every time.

10. Don’t ignore recalls

Do you ever get recall notices in the mail? If so, it’s easy to just throw them away. But bear in mind that a manufacturer sends out recalls whenever there is a substantial issue with the car. In that case, it’s important to not ignore those recall notices and have the work done as soon as possible. After all, it’s free.

Don’t do these things to your car

If you are guilty of doing any of these 10 things to your car, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. However, you might be worrying soon enough if car problems start to pop up due to your neglect. Just remember to pay attention to these areas and your car should last for many years to come.